THE CLOSURE of a short-stay care home for adults with learning disabilities has been agreed as part of an overhaul of support for unpaid carers.
The Budden Crescent home in Caldicot has been used since 1992 to provide short-stay accommodation for adults so their usual carers, often their families, can benefit from a break providing round the clock care.
Residential care is one of four options offered by Monmouthshire County Council which has been reviewing its respite care service that is intended to offer “enriching experiences” for those cared for.
Since 2011 the council has said the service has focused on giving service users a wider choice of how that short respite care is provided, with other options being supported holidays, direct payments so people can make their own arrangements, and a shared lives scheme, that runs across south east Wales, where people offer care in their own homes to service users.
The council’s chief officer for social care Jane Rodgers told the Labour led cabinet: “In Monmouthshire we’ve take a direction to promote positive choices rather than one size fits all.”
The cabinet member for social care, Cllr Ian Chandler, said the review had found the other options were harder to access for wheelchair users and those with more complex needs while closing the home will save the council £248,445 a year. As a result the revamped respite service will cost £179,837 annually rather than £428,282.
Budden House has been been closed since the review started in November last year but Ms Rodgers said demand had been declining since before the 2020 pandemic and had been operating at 25 per cent capacity.
The council has been using homes in Newport and Blaenau Gwent since to provide residential respite with Newport costing around £1,500 a week for one person, compared to £10,000 a week at Budden Crescent though an alternative calculation put the cost at £5,500 a week.
The social services chief officer said: “We looked at the option of offering places to other local authorities but there is a lack of demand hence we are able to purchase places.”
Green Party member Cllr Chandler said the £248,445 being saved could also be described as “a quarter of a million pounds in additional expenditure required to keep Budden Crescent open for a small number of users.”
Frances Taylor, the leader of the council’s Independent Group, said plans to work with holiday providers to expand the range of short breaks, so wheelchair users can take them up, or making adaptations to people’s homes so they can offer support, appeared to be promises.
She said: “It does seem to be described in the future tense rather than something that’s accessible now.”
Cllr Chandler said wheelchair users and those with complex needs already receive respite: “We want to expand that as it is limited and provide choice rather than still running Budden Crescent.”
Conservative opposition leader Richard John said of the review: “It does feel financially led rather than purely in the best interests of the carers and the cared for.”
He also highlighted that the consultation showed only one individual supported closing Budden Crescent but Ms Rodgers said of 18 service users there was a “mixed response” to the proposals.
The council’s scrutiny committee had also raised concerns about the closure of Budden Crescent and the support for those with complex needs. Cllr Chandler said the review had been through a “rigorous scrutiny process”.
In response to a question from Cllr Taylor Ms Rodgers said it was too soon to put a cost on the redundancy process related to Budden Crescent’s 12 staff but she council has an employment protection policy.
The cabinet unanimously agreed the recommendations, which include increasing the range of supported holidays, increasing other respite opportunities and the closure of Budden Cresent, after council Labour leader Mary Ann Brocklesby asked them to individually state if they supported them or not.